Looking forward to a given year's movies is sometimes a sucker's game. You spend months and months hyping yourself up for John Carter only to see it disappoint, and then have no idea what Beasts of the Southern Wild is until it suddenly becomes your favorite movie of the year. The fun of moviegoing is often in the surprises, in thinking you've got the lay of the land only to walk into a theater completely thrown off.

At the same time, you can at least do your best to be prepared, and to keep a mental note for those movies that could sneak up on you in the end. Yes, everyone on the Internet is already anticipating Man of Steel and Pacific Rim and Saving Mr. Banks and the year's other heavyweights, but what about the smaller movies you might not see coming? We've picked five of those that you might not be looking out for yet, but really should be, whether they're festival hits from previous years finally coming to theaters, an adaptation of a weird and wonderful book, the return of a skilled director, or just movies that look awesome on paper. We can't guarantee any of these will live up to the hype, but if you want to look forward to some movies without superheroes or franchises behind them, these five are a good place to start.

Ass Backwards
The Sundance Film Festival is a place where the underdog can finally come out on top. For underappreciated comediennes Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael, this means they and the road movie they co-wrote and headline will have a chance to shine. Centering on two friends who set out on a cross-country trip to their hometown in hopes of winning a pageant whose glory eluded them as kids, Ass Backwards appears to pull inspiration from such comedy classics as Romy & Michele's High School Reunion and Drop Dead Gorgeous.

This alone would be enough to have me pumped for this production, but I've been rooting for Wilson and Raphael for years now. The former went from being an overlooked cast member on Saturday Night Live to one of the funniest women on TV in the hilarious yet overlooked sitcom Happy Endings. The latter has popped up in such sidesplitting series as Human Giant, Party Down, and NTSF:SD:SUV. Basically, both have been plugging away and are poised for a breakthrough. With a wacky premise and a cast that also includes Bob Odenkirk, Paul Scheer, and Alicia Silverstone, Ass Backwards could prove a tipping point for these funny women, as well as a new comedy classic.

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